Friday, 14 December 2018

Cheers ... I think

If I do have one regret it is that I don't drink. Not much, anyway. I know I often joke that I have cheese and whisky before going to bed; but truth be known I don't drink very much. I may have the odd drop of whisky on special occasions, say once every six to eight weeks, probably rarer. And indeed, I do like Guinness. It is my favourite brew. But I drink very occasionally a bottle or a can. In fact, I probably would be classified as a non-drinker. It just does not appeal to me.

Sometimes people give me drinks as presents for Christmas or other occasions. Spirits or wines; and to be honest I just re-cycle them and give them to other people.

The reason I said I regret not drinking is because I just love the bottles.

I had a few moments to spare the other day at a supermarket. I was waiting for someone; so I picked up a trolley and wondered around aimlessly.

I stopped by the drinks aisle and I was astounded at the number of different brands of drinks there on display. There were no fewer than thirty different brands of gin alone. Gin from London, Edinburgh, other parts of Scotland and elsewhere. And rum, and vodka, and tequila, and brandy, and whisky. From every corner of the world.

There were more than half-a-dozen brands of American whiskey, (I like the way they spell it with an E). Some were called bourbon, and proudly mentioned their place of origin - Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado and so on. There were whiskys from every corner of Scotland it seems. And the bottles ... oh the bottles ... and the labels! Aren't they just beautiful?

There were every shape of bottle you can imagine. Traditional, square ones, rounded ones like a globe, bell shaped ones. And the labels. So beautiful. So well designed. So evocative.

I moved on to other drinks. The rum section had so many wonderful labels with pictures of pirates, old style sailing ships and so on. Vodka ... gin ... ouzo ... liqueurs. All had wonderful names and labels that made the bottle jump off the shelf and shout "Buy me".

I moved on to the wine section; and then the beers and ciders. The same wonders applied there too. So many brands. So many names. So many wonderful wonderful labels.

If I could, I would have bought them all. Not for drinking, of course. All those bottles and cans would last me for an eternity. No, not for drinking ... just to look at them. To pick up every bottle and read the labels; every word thereon. And admire the elaborate multi-coloured drawings and masterpieces on each label.

So ... what does that make me? I like drink bottles and cans of every kind and of every type of drink. But I personally don't drink. In fact, I have never tasted vodka, or gin, or tequila, or ...

Come to think of it; the only two drinks I have ever had are beer and whisky, and rarely a drop of wine.

What's your favourite drink?

Don't say nettles or dandelion tea, please !!!!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

It's Christmas

It's Christmas time once again. My favourite time of the year. And although we always say that this year we will be minimalist and not overspend there's always a reason why we should buy this and that.

This year, bringing forth my Ebenezer Scrooge nature, I wrote to all relatives and friends making a pact of some sort. I suggested we don't buy presents for each other but instead we say a little prayer for each other. It's a much more valuable gift and costs nothing in monetary funds to my ailing wallet. Also, we could give some of the money not spent on expensive gifts to a charity of our choice.

Most agreed to this suggestion. At least, by not responding to my e-mail I took it they agreed.


Some have already broken the truce by sending us early presents to put under the tree. This means they have put us, (me), under an obligation to purchase something of equal or greater value; that is if we knew what's in the wrapped parcels. How inconvenient. Also, because I had already donated money to charity, I now have to spend even more money in buying presents to those who disregarded
our agreement.

I prepared a list of items to purchase from town during lunch break from work. I ran from shop to shop buying the items on the list and soon discovered that I was running out of cash.

I went to the bank for more cash because I needed some money to put in the Church collection that evening.

They have a system in our church whereby they give you 52 envelopes with your number on it. Every week you put some money in the envelope, seal it, and drop it in the collection tray. No one knows what you have given except the church treasurer. He opens the envelopes and records what you have given using the number printed on the outside to identify you. At year end, he tells the Government how much you have donated and the Government, (Inland Revenue Service), gives the church a donation based on a percentage of your donation. So the church gets more from what you've donated.

I suggested to the priest we use credit card transactions during collection time; and he frowned at me without responding. So I needed some cash.

At the bank all the machines giving out cash were out of order. I had to queue to get cash from the counter.

At the counter, whilst the young lady was cashing my cheque the phone on her desk rang. It was a personal call. She just learnt that her favourite aunt had died. She was totally distraught and sat there staring into space doing nothing. I was in a hurry to get my cash and get on with my purchases. I did not want to be late back at work.

As tactically as I could, and as gentle too, (as you know I am, dear readers), I suggested to her that her aunt would still be dead in ten minutes. Could she cash my cheque and grieve later?

She burst into tears and ran away. Honestly ... some people can be over-sensitive, don't you think? I had to wait until another cashier came to complete the transaction.

When I got to work I discovered that my secretary was upset and crying her heart out because her cat had died that morning.

In order to prove my kind heartedness, and in the spirit of Christmas, I went out again and bought her an identical cat.

When she saw it she was even more upset because she now has two dead cats!

I never win!!!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Robin Redbreast

The robin is such a beautiful bird often associated with Christmas. Since the 19th Century images of robins in a background of snow have adorned many a Christmas card.

I love robins, especially their wonderful songs. They are cheeky little birds, and courageous too. They visit our garden all year's through, not just at Christmas, and in summer, when I have worked in the garden and perhaps disturbed some insects or worms, a robin often visits and waits in the bushes; then he plucks up courage and jumps from branch to branch until he is on the ground literally just three feet away picking up something to eat. He is totally fearless and I stand there still like a statue, not daring to move an inch, so that I don't frighten him away.

Did you know that legend has it that when Jesus was dying on the Cross, a robin, then just brown in colour, flew to His side and sang in His ear. Christ's blood stained the robin's breast and since then they all have the red markings.

I saw a robin in our garden only yesterday. Fearless and cheerful as ever.

This reminded me of a story long time ago when, a few days before Christmas, I visited a factory full of machineries, conveyor belts, and a huge furnace burning so fiercely you could feel the heat a long way off. I was doing an audit of their financial accounts.

As I arrived, someone had found a wounded robin amongst the heavy snow in a hedge somewhere. He picked him up and put him in a small cardboard box, and wrapped him in some pieces of cloth to keep him warm. He had a damaged wing and could not fly, as he was lying there in his box with his eyes half closed.

I was going to my office so I took the box there. I had just visited my favourite burger restaurant, so I put a large chunk of burger and a few French fries in the box for the bird to eat. He did not seem interested. So I covered the box with a pile of papers to make sure he doesn't fly away, not that he could; and also to make sure that the office cat does not help himself to a feathered meal whilst I was out of the office.

An hour or so later I checked the box and to my dismay the piece of burger and fries were still there uneaten. To think that I could have had them instead. There I was generously giving part of my meal to a bird in distress and he couldn't even bother to even taste it. He just stayed there, lying on his side, eyes half closed and breathing ever so lightly.

In total disgust at this bird's ungratefulness at my generosity, I ate the piece of burger and fries and threw the box into the fiery furnace.

It took only seconds for that blazing inferno to turn the box and its contents into ashes.

I stood there and watched with a smirk on my face as the ferocious famished flames devoured hungrily the little morsel they'd just been offered.

I then carried the bird carefully in my hands and took him back to my office. It was imperative I kept him warm in this wintry December weather.

I placed him in my empty coffee cup, upside down, so he doesn't fly away. Took off my shoe, the left one it was, as I remember. Took off my sock and put the bird in it to keep him warm.

I then filled the cup with hot coffee to keep me warm too.

After work, I took the sock and its content to the local Bird Rescue Centre where they took care of him. They never returned the sock though.

I had to drive back home sock-less in my left foot; which nearly gave me frostbite by the time I got to my apartment.

A few days after Christmas the Rescue Centre invited me back to see the bird now totally healed. I was there when they released it in the wild once again to fly happily and to sing to its heart's content.

But they never gave me my sock back!!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

How Rude

I've just bought a massive Christmas tree going cheap from a farmer friend of mine who grows them locally. I put it on top of the car and drove it home.

When I arrived and as I was getting the tree off the car, the postman happened to pass by.

He said, "WOW ... that is one huge tree. Are you going to put it up yourself?"

"NO ..." I replied, "I am going to put it up in the living room!"

Monday, 10 December 2018

Strange Happenings

Last night I was out for a few drinks with some friends. In reality, I am not much of a drinker. The rumours in the pub were that the police were checking for drunk drivers that evening.

I decided to leave my car where it was and took a bus home.

Sure enough, I passed a Police control where they were pulling over drivers and performing breathalyser tests to see if they were drinking.

Because I was in a bus they just waved it past. I arrived home safely and without incident, which was a real surprise as I've never driven a bus before and I am not even sure where I got it from.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Faithful One

Sir Cliff Richard OBE

Saturday, 8 December 2018

The Return

Because we have freedom we are able to wander where we want. We are able to move away from God, to the point where we no longer believe in Him; if this is what we want.

But this does not stop Him of searching for us. Encouraging us to return to His love and home.

As Jesus said, He will leave the ninety-nine sheep to go searching for the lost one.

Of course, not every one returns to God. Some decide to go and wander their own way.

But God never stops calling. Sometimes, something someone says, a chance meeting with someone, or an event in one's life, may be enough to trigger our attention. To make us think again. Perhaps hear His voice ... and return to Him.

Christmas is the time when people sometimes visit the church. Often, they probably just go to church just once a year - at Christmas.

Our church is always full to capacity at Christmas. Especially for midnight Mass, when the pubs are shut and people call in on their way home.

Of course they are welcome. Who knows, the few minutes that they are there in church something inside them may light up like a small flame that makes them want to return for ever.

This Christmas, if you know someone who does not go to church, why not invite them for just one occasion.

Who knows ... that might be enough to make them hear the call their soul yearns for.

What a privilege if, through you, someone returns to God.
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